Maple & Pecan Banana Cake

Last weekend, we went camping. When we returned, I found three VERY ripe bananas in the refrigerator. I knew something needed to be done with them before they were completely useless, but I just didn’t feel like baking banana bread.

So I made banana cake instead! I knew from the get-go that I wanted the cake slightly more healthy (surprise surprise!) than the original recipe. So I swapped whole wheat flour for the AP flour and used maple syrup in place of the brown and white sugar. To compensate for the maple syrup, I increased the flour by 1/4 cup.

This recipe was very forgiving, even with all of my crazy substitutions. The cake was moist and flavorful and rose beautifully in the oven.

The original recipe instructed me to serve the cake with slightly sweetened whipped cream. Since I don’t take orders from recipes very readily, I just served it with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and sprinkled it with some toasted pecans.


Maple & Pecan Banana Cake

from How to Bake by Nick Malgieri


For the Cake

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 2 3.4 cups (11 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup mashed, not pureed, bananas
  • 3/4 cup milk or buttermilk

For the Frosting

  • 1 eight-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened but still firm
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup toasted pecans, for garnish


To make the cake:

1) Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 13×9-inch glass baking dish and line the bottom with parchment paper.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand beater, cream the butter until soft and light. Gradually add the maple syrup and beat on medium speed for 5 minutes more, or until very light. The butter and maple syrup may separate slightly.

3) Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the bowl and beaters occasionally. Beat in the vanilla.

4) In a medium bowl, whisk together the  flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture along with the milk and bananas. Beat on low speed just until combined.

5) Scrape the batter into the prepare pan and bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until the cake is well risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack, removing the paper, and allow to cool completely.

To make the frosting:

1) In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter, maple syrup, and vanilla and beat until smooth.

2) Store in the refrigerator until serving. If the frosting becomes too hard, let it sit a room temperature until spreadable.

To serve the cake:

Cut the cake into desired sized pieces. Spread with frosting. Garnish with toasted pecans. Serve immediately.

Makes approximately twenty-four 2-inch squares



21 thoughts on “Maple & Pecan Banana Cake

  1. hi! some days ago I discovered your amazing blog! love at first sight!
    I definitely love it! I put it among my favorites 🙂

    your photos are so beautiful, and your recipes look so delicious

    & you’re really cute, you seem younger than you are though 🙂

  2. That cake looks and sounds so good! I will definitely consider it next time I have some overripe bananas. I love your healthy tweaks on the recipes. I have made your version of the King Arthur’s whole wheat bread and I absolutely LOVE IT! Thank you so much. I posted about on my site.

  3. This is my first time visiting your blog, Erica, and I absolutely love it!!! I will be trying this banana cake recipe, the date nut bread recipe you previously posted (I have a huge container of dates that I need to use up). Also, I was wondering if you could some day share the recipe for the rice pudding you made reference to in one of your party posts, I would so love to make it.

    The “contact” button doesn’t seem to be working (I use Firefox, if that’s any help).

    All the best….

  4. Leesie: I’m so glad you enjoy my blog!

    I may share the recipe for rice pudding sometime. I am dissatisfied with the photos, so I may wait until I make it again to post the recipe.

    Thanks for the heads up about the contact button. For some reason I had deactivated the plugin. It is now up and running.


  5. Ohh, that looks so nice and moist! I love banana cake, especially when it’s a little healthified! Means I can have one more slice 😉
    Beautiful blog and photos! Just discovered it at DB.

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  7. Pingback: “I Heart Desserts” Photo Challenge | Simple Days

  8. This cake looks wonderful and has some of my favorite ingredients. I love your use of the whole wheat pastry flour too. Really great and can’t wait to try.

  9. LOVE IT! LOVE IT! So good! My husband and kids gobbled this down and it was even better the next day after sitting in the fridge! I didn’t have maple syrup so I substituted 3/4c brown rice syrup and 1/4c molasses. This is a KEEPER for sure! And congrats on your recent marriage! You two make a completely ADORABLE couple!

  10. I must agree with other posters – your photographs are beautiful!

    I just found your site and have to tell you what a welcoming and calming place it is — I’ve so enjoyed looking through your recipes and reading your bits of wisdom. I especially love the cooking lessons with your grandmother. Thank you for sharing them with us. Take care!

  11. I LOVE this recipe! I split it in half and made two thinner cakes, then I mashed the rest of my brown bananas and put it in between the two layers of cake and topped it off with your frosting recipe. My fiance’ loved it and I didn’t have to waste my bananas! Thanks!

  12. We made this last night to have a little homemade birthday cake for my daughter to try on her 1st birthday — we all think it’s delicious! Thank you!

    I’m curious if I’d be able to do the same maple syrup/flour ratio in your carrot cake. Have you ever tried it?

    • Briana: The rule of thumb that I use for substituting maple syrup for sugar is: For each cup of maple syrup used, increase the flour by 1/4 cup or decrease the liquids (milk, water, etc.) by 1/4 cup. I’m sure you could use that method for my carrot cake! Just substitute maple syrup for the sugar and increase the flour by 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon. Hope that helps! 🙂

  13. Pingback: 40 Desserts with Pecans - Something Swanky

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